International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Literature in Bioethics. A Cognitive Approach
Teresa López de la Vieja

This contribution argues in favour of the use of literary texts in bioethics, in order to expand standard methodologies in the field. It also defends a cognitive approach to the issue, since stories might provide some significant information to analyze certain difficult cases. In fact, specific data concerning patients with Alzheimer’s disease are not always available for open discussion, and in such cases one wonders how to deliberate about practical problems and ethical dilemmas. The thesis is that some stories and texts could offer indirect information about the experience of illness and clinical practice. For instance, the case of Mrs. Bayley is well-known; there is information about her last years with dementia, she was a famous author, and we have Mr. Bayley’s testimony. However, this is quite exceptional because of its literary form. Here three arguments are provided to support the cognitive approach to the issue; namely the obvious limits of communication about illness and pain, the dynamics of practical deliberation, and the restricted use of personal data.

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